One rule-of-thumb definition of insanity people use is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. In light of that, one has to question the sanity of what appears to be a new Russian offensive in Ukraine. The Russian armed forces appear to be making the same mistakes they did in their drive for Kiev in the first offensive. Now, with demoralized troops and an increasingly stiff resistance from Ukraine, they seem to be attempting the same thing all over again.
Speculation is rife regarding Putin’s real objectives in his war. The de-Nazification was always a trifle hollow, while the demilitarization would better have been accomplished by Putin halting his funding and encouragement of the separatist regions that he created. As for corruption, the Ukrainians are amateurs compared to Putin and Friends; Putin in fact may be the biggest thief in human history. Some sources have suggested that Putin’s real goal is to seize Ukraine’s mineral wealth for himself and his cronies, and he doesn’t care how many people have to die on either side to satisfy his colossal greed and lust for power.
Do we digress? Hardly. It’s all a question of power — who has it, and what it’s used for. To Putin and his ilk, power means the ability to force people to give you what you want, which is usually more power. He’s an addict, and he can’t stop, which is why he embarked on a “special military operation” in the first place.
|"Steal MY catchphrase, will you?"|
What’s the solution? To think of power properly. Power is defined as the ability for doing. Doing what, you ask? Well, that depends on how you define the meaning and purpose of life. If the goal of your life is to control as many other people as possible, then you will stop at nothing to collect as much wealth, and thus power, as you can . . . and it’s all justified, at least if you’re a sociopath.
On the other hand, if you define the meaning and purpose of life in a more Aristotelian manner, that is, becoming more fully human or virtuous, then you want enough power to control yourself and act as a full member of society, but not one iota more. Power, after all, tends to corrupt, and absolute power — as we have seen with Putin — tends to corrupt absolutely.
|What happens if you don't pay the piper.|
This is why we propose something that would benefit not only Ukraine immediately, but be good for Russia, as well as every other country and person on Earth. It’s actually a two-parter, and can be expressed succinctly as one, How to pay for the war, and two, How to pay for the peace.
First, Ukraine needs weapons, munitions, and other war materiel. Granted, the issue of how to pay for what the country gets is not uppermost in, say, President Zelenskyy’s mind right now, but if the war drags on too much longer, it will be. With all the goodwill in the world, at some point somebody has to pay for what Ukraine receives, and taxpayers already beaten up by a global pandemic are going to want Ukraine to foot the bill for its own defense — and they’re right. Putin has made Ukraine the world’s battlefield, and the fight is, in a very real sense, everyone’s fight . . . but somebody had better come up with the money to pay for it.
That’s one part of it. Ideally, financing Ukraine’s war effort should also be done in a way that weakens that of Russia while at the same time benefitting or at least not harming Russians (except Putin, his cronies, and anyone guilty of war crimes).
|Restore Rule of Law|
The second part will loom ever-larger the closer Ukraine comes to driving out the invader and has the task not only of restoring order and rule of law, but of rebuilding virtually an entire economy reduced in many cases to rubble or even wiped completely off the map. And that’s where it gets sticky.
After World War I, the Allied reparations commission insisted on trying to make the Central Powers pay the entire cost of the war. While the war was supposed to be a draw, and everything go back to where it was before the war, the Allies were able to treat Germany and Austria-Hungary (by that time broken up into different countries instead of an empire) as having been conquered. Reparations were the single largest factor in fueling the rise of Hitler and bringing about World War II in Europe.
No, trying to get Russia to make cash reparation payments to Ukraine is not only unrealistic from a pragmatic point of view, it would simply restart the war all over again at the first opportunity. What is wanted is a way for Russia to make reparation without being beggared, but also that removes the threat of another war the first time some dictator decides to stuff his (or her) pockets with loot.
There is a program that we think will cover the whole spectrum, the Economic Democracy Act. Very briefly, the Economic Democracy Act would:
|If not a prayer, it's still an answer.|
· Give Zelenskyy a viable means to repay the loans he’s already gotten and raise more money, if necessary. By having a specific plan in place ready to go will make other countries feel more at ease, knowing that there is a specific proposal to generate funds that can be used to reimburse them.
· Give every single Ukrainian the sense of fighting for his or her country even if they’re not in the military. They already know if they can out-produce Russia they will win. The Economic Democracy Act would mean they are fighting for themselves personally as well as their friends, neighbors, and their entire country by becoming as productive as possible.
· Dishearten the Russian soldiers and the Russian people as a whole . . . making it clear that, if the Russians get rid of Putin and his goons, give adequate security against another invasion, and pay a reasonable indemnity as well as punish war criminals, they can have an EDA as well . . . which would by its very nature preclude someone like Putin seizing power ever again. And, yes, an EDA would rebuild the Russian economy as well and restore the tax base, giving Russia the wherewithal to pay a reasonable indemnity.
· Provide a means of financing the rebuilding of Ukraine that would ensure its political and economic independence, even if it joins the European Union or becomes a member of NATO. In fact, with the EDA, it’s conceivable that the need for NATO will disappear as Russia forgoes its paranoia and rejoins the global community without trying to conquer the world.
It’s at least something to think about.